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Obama: ‘Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election’

President Barack Obamaddresses supporters UIC Forum 725 W. Roosevelt Rd. during an evening fund-raising Wednesday Jan. 11 2012 Chicago. |

President Barack Obama addresses supporters at the UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Rd., during an evening of fund-raising Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: January 11, 2012 8:00PM

Trying to jump-start his re-election with hometown fund-raisers and rallies Wednesday, President Barack Obama told 500 cheering fans Wednesday, “Everything that we fought for is now at stake in this election.”

He added, “If you’re willing to work even harder in this election than you did in the last election, I promise you, change will come. God bless you Chicago, I love you!”

Obama was speaking after R&B/Soul singer Janelle Monae at the UIC Forum, where some students got in for as little as $44. Other VIPs paid $1,000 and the high-end fund-raisers Obama is scheduled to hit later will cost $35,800 a couple to attend.

Obama was joined by his outgoing chief of staff Bill Daley.

“I want to say a special word about a friend of ours, a man who has done extraordinary work for me and performed extraordinary service for our country over the past year, Bill Daley,” Obama said pointing to Daley, who left his job abruptly this week. “Bill and I, when we got off the plane, we said, is it really 45 degrees in January? When Bill first told me it was time for him to return to our hometown, I asked him to take a couple days to reconsider, but it is tough to resist the greatest city in the world. As much as I will miss him in the White House, he will be an extraordinary asset to our campaign. He’s going to be helping us win in 2012.”

Just before the rally, Obama stopped at his national campaign headquarters at the Prudential Building downtown — his first visit to rally his troops here working on his re-election.

While he never mentioned any of his Republican opponents by names at his rally, he slammed them in general terms, to cheers by his fans:

“What [Americans] are sick and tired of is watching people who are supposed to represent them put their party ahead of the country, put the next election ahead of the next generation. That’s what they don’t understand,” Obama said.

“When you’ve got the top Republican saying his number-one priority isn’t creating more jobs, solving the health care problems; it isn’t making sure were competitive in the 21st century, but it’s to beat me — then you know things aren’t on the level. They’ll fight with their last breath to protect tax cuts for the most fortunate in America, but they’ll play political games with tax cuts for the middle class.”

About 100 protesters gathered across from the Forum, where Obama arrived about 5:30 p.m.

Graduate student Tom Alter, 37, said he was unhappy with continuing wars overseas and the high number of deportations of illegal immigrants. He chanted outside the university with other activists.

The self-described independent has been a member of the Occupy Chicago movement.

The president hopes to raise over $2 million with his one-night, three event trip to his hometown. But he will not spend the night in his Kenwood home, as he plans to fly immediately back to Washington D.C. later Wednesday night.

Obama was also accompanied by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett.

Even though this is his first visit to his campaign headquarters, Illinois Republicans charge that most of his administration’s key decisions are made at the Prudential Building — and not the White House.

“There hasn’t been a decision out of the White House in three weeks that’s not political,” said Illinois Republican party Chairman Pat Brady.

Contributing: Associated Press

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